The Court of Appeal has allowed a trademark dispute between Oracle (formerly Sun Microsystems) and an independent trader, M-Tech Data Limited, to proceed to full trial. The Court has also suggested that a reference to the ECJ may be necessary to clarify the interplay between trademarks, barriers to entry and competition rules. M-Tech trades computer hardware systems and was taken to court by Oracle for alleged infringement of Oracle’s registered trademark.
An initial hearing ruled in favour of Oracle but the Court of Appeal overturned this and held that a full length trial should be granted. M-Tech still has to prove its case against Oracle and the judge in the Court of Appeal noted that a referral to the ECJ may be needed on the issues raised by M-Tech’s defence. One of these issues is the extent to which competition rules can be used to defend against intellectual property infringement claims. M-Tech claimed that Oracle’s restrictive distribution policy hampered parallel trade and competition and that its distribution agreements were aimed at excluding secondary traders from competing. This was denied by Oracle.